Thanksgiving and Christmas are slow approaching, and home cooks are starting to plan and prep their holiday meal. Over the past 30 days, searches for ‘How to cook a Turkey” have increased by 233% worldwide, highlighting that home cooks may want to try new methods when cooking a Turkey for Thanksgiving.
Meal Kit Canada investigated Google Trends data to determine what method remains popular when it comes to cooking a Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
They found that the search term “How to cook a Turkey” and “Turkey recipes” peaked around the holiday season in both America and Canada. This indicates that home cooks, or people wanting to take charge of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner want to see what other ways there are to prepare the bird.
Despite new advances in cooking technology with kitchen gadgets that are available to consumers, home cooks still prefer to go the traditional route when cooking a Turkey.
1. Turkey Brine (Wet Brine)
Brining is a method used to counteract dryness, especially with poultry such as Turkey.
There are two types of brining methods, dry or wet. The wet brine is a traditional method where the raw turkey is submerged in a brining solution for at least eight hours to help the Turkey to take in more moisture and become tender due to the salt content.
A basic brining solution consists of water and salt. Adding herbs and spices to your brining solution can also help boost flavor with minimum effort, which is why it remains a popular method.
Spatchcocking is a method that reduces cooking time of a Turkey or Chicken drastically by creating more surface area that can cook the meat quickly.
It is done by removing the backbone and then pressing down and flattening the bird so it resembles a butterfly.
This method allows the bird to cook evenly and become crispier due to all the skin being exposed to the heat of the oven.
Smoking is the third most popular method used to cook a Turkey. Smoked Turkey does require more time to ensure the meat is cooked and has reached a safe temperature.
This method is a ‘set and forget’ method, where you leave the bird for a few hours to cook without having to check on it too often, which can explain why it is popular.
The holiday season can be hectic especially in the kitchen, and this method does not occupy the oven, leaving it free to be used for other dishes.
4. Dry Brine
Dry brining is an easier alternative to its wet counterpart because it does not require large amounts of water.
The ingredients are similar to a wet brine, but the method is different. The salt and spices need to be directly rubbed onto the bird and then letting the bird dry in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
This method uses the Turkey’s own moisture, as well as the salt, to help tenderize and moisten the meat. Since the skin of the bird is dried out, once cooked in the oven, it will result in crispy skin.
5. Oven Roasted
Roasting has become less popular as it can be time consuming and dry out meat. Oven roasted Turkeys require more prep and basting time. As there is no moisture, and the heat is consistent, parts of the bird can cook quicker than others resulting in dry meat.
One way to combat this is to consistently baste the Turkey at least every 30 minutes or covering the Turkey breast with a compound butter or bacon to prevent any drying out. Another method would be to stuff the inside of the bird with stuffing or vegetables, which adds more moisture internally.
Frying a Turkey is a showstopper and became very popular in the 1970’s. It can result in a golden bird with very crispy skin and juicy meat. Compared to other methods, it is one of the quickest ways to cook a Turkey, however it does require prior brining to provide some extra flavor and tenderness.
Once the Turkey has been brined and dried, it can be placed into an extra-large pot of oil to cook. A basic cooking method for fried Turkey is to cook the bird for three to four minutes per pound at 350°F.
It must be noted that Fried Turkey can be hazardous to cook and must be done outside to prevent any fires from breaking out. In America, Fire departments respond to at least 1,000 fires that have been caused by deep fat fryers. To ensure a Turkey is cooked safely, ensure the bird has been thawed out and dried completely, if not brining.
7. Air Fried
Air-fryers have increased in popularity over the years receiving a global search volume of 3.1M, therefore it is inevitable for consumers to try and cook their Turkey’s in their Air-Fryer this holiday season.
Despite Air-Fryers becoming a popular tool used to cook a whole roast, it may not be the most efficient. Due to the size of generic air-fryers, some Turkey’s are most likely not going to fit, resulting in the bird having to be cut into smaller pieces to cook evenly.
If using an Air-fryer, you will have to ensure there is enough room for hot air to circulate.
Grilling or barbecuing a Turkey provides juicy meat and a smoky flavor, however it does require marination to provide extra flavor and tenderness.
In addition to freeing up space in the over for other dishes, grilling or barbecuing is a great healthy way to cook meat and poultry and requires less fat than other traditional methods.
Regardless of new cooking gadgets that are available to consumers and home cooks, such as Combi-Ovens and Air-fryers which reduce cooking times and can prevent meat from drying, home cooks will still take the traditional route with wet brining their Turkey for their holiday dinner. However, this data shows that there is an interest in other cooking methods.